Music Reviews

Fermin Muguruza

FM 99.00 Dub Manifest

Esan Ozenki

With an infectious mix of internationalist ska, punk, techno, rap, dancehall, Latin, and Basque trad influences, Sub-Comandante Fermin Muguruza has, with his Dub Manifest unit, produced some of the most fun and danceable hardcore lefty protest music ever put on disc.

With a pun on the initials of his own name, FM imagines a possible radio broadcast from the semi-urban wasteland of his home town, Irun, a Basque village riven by the arbitrary border of Spain and France. Muguruza is a man assured of his own culture, but in constant question of the nationalistic constructs that make up the world as we know it. Thus, FM 99.00 Dub Manifest is constantly breaking down the barricades – creating a startlingly inventive and beautiful mix of many cultures.

This is no eviscerated world beaten world beat pabulum. This is a radio-world where expatriate Berber rappers boast about a favorite watering hole in the Kasko Zaharra of Bilbao (“Beri-Bar”), where a drivingly syncopated Latin American groove morphs fluidly into hardcore punctuations, only to end up as bossa nova hip hop (“Gizon Armaturak – Men With Guns”), and where the breakbeats of “Irudikeriak – Delusions” layer with the clack and thump of improvised txalaparta (an incredible Basque percussion instrument played by two people) – all underneath a dub reggae current.

Barroom sing-alongs, anti-anthems, Arabic modal melodies, voices in Arabic, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, broken English, and mainly Basque conspire to create an ether-world that runs brilliantly along the fine line of being specific to Basque issues and concerns while fitting comfortably in the forefront of underground world culture.

Over the last fifteen years, Fermin Muguruza has been on the cutting edge of Basque music and culture – first with his seminal Clash-influenced punk/skalherria band, Kortatu, then with his expansive (though largely punk and hardcore driven) Negu Gorriak. In the mid-nineties he returned to a basic rock sound with Dut. But in 1999, he went into the studio and emerged with the wild and eclectic Brigadistak Sound System. Dub Manifest grew out this endeavor, being the touring band of the studio experiment. With tree year on the road – all over the world – Dub Manifeset performed their final show in late September of this year in Zurich. FM 99.00 Dub Manifest is a fitting testament of this great band and the visionary talents of Fermin Muguruza.

Esan Ozenki, Eguzkitza Karrika 13, 20.304 Irun EH, Spain,

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